Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kingdom Hearts 2, Volume 2 by Shiro Amano

Roxas, who lives in a small, seaside town but dreams of being Sora, is forced to face the truth. His friends no longer seem to see him or remember who he is. Not only that, but his hands go through them, and no one else seems to exist in the town.

Axel appears and tells Roxas that if he wants answers, he should go to the castle. Roxas does, and gets to see Namine one more time. She tells him that he needs to wake Sora. The strange man in bandages, who seems to be the leader of the organization appears and freezes Namine, then tells Roxas to meet him in the library. When Roxas does, he finds a secret door opening that leads him to the basement. Inside, he relives his memories.

He was made by the organization to keep watch over Sora's body, coocooned in a pod and deep inside a dream. Roxas was made to keep the heartless from Sora's dream, but he became enamoured of some kids inside the dream and decided he wanted to be their friend, and gave up his job to be with them. Now it is time for Sora to wake and for Roxas to disppear back to the nothingness from which he was created. Roxas was actually part of Sora's soul or memories.

When Sora awakes, Roxas is gone, and Sora's keyblade has been returned to him, and outside of the castle is the town from Sora's dreams. He comes upon the children who were friends with Roxas, and they seem to remember him as well, such as buying four ice creams when there are only three of them. Sora rescues them from bullies, and when they must say goodbye, can't stop crying, although he doesn't consciously remember them. King Mickey appears to fight some heartless and tells Sora, Goofy and Donald to get on the train, for the train knows where to go. He also gives Sora a bag, and inside is the marble that Roxas won in the contest back in the first book.

The train takes them to the castle of Yen Sid, a master magician, who congratulates them on their success in containing the heartless. But there is a new threat, the nobodies. When someone with a strong heart becomes a heartless, their body develops a mind of its own. Some of them have formed a group called Organization XIII and control the nobodies. King Mickey is searching the worlds to find their true objectives, which is why he can't return home yet.

Sora, Goofy and Donald agree to fight the nobodies, and Yen Sid hooks them up with new, fresh clothing, and another Gummi ship to travel the worlds with. They return first to Hollow Bastion, where Sid, Yuffie, Aerith, Merlin and Leon live. Yet it is still in danger of being overrun by the Heartless.

And we find out that Maleficent isn't dead after all, and she still has plans to take over all the heartless, and all the worlds, with Pete as her servant. But with thousands of Heartless in a canyon outside Traverse Town, can Sora and the others do anything to eliminate them, with Organization XIII and more nobodies waiting in the wings?

This particular volume suffered from a bit of a split personality, what with the first third focussed on Roxas, and the rest on Sora and his friends. Seeing the end of Roxas, when the whole first volume focussed solely on him, was rather sad, and the contrast between the cheerful but thoughtful Roxas and the relentlessly cheerful Sora was marked and especially jarring. By the end of the volume, you can begin to finally forget about the tragedy of Roxas, but no matter how many times I read the volume again, the transition still cuts as sharp as a knife.

This series will continue, and I'll continue to read it, but I don't feel this was the best way to split up the story of Roxas.

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